Top 10 Questions About Flu Shot Answered by Dr. Gregson

By: Chandra Lye
Dr Daniel Gregson, past president of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (AMMI), answers your questions about the flu shot.
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  1. What is better for your immune system? Getting the flu or getting the shot?
Your immune system will respond to either the flu shot or influenza. I think the advantage of being immunized is it reduces your risk of getting influenza, which is associated with adverse outcomes. So, you are better off getting the flu shot then having influenza.
  1. Do flu shots really do worse than better?
Flu shots have different variable effectiveness depending on what age you are, whether you have underlying disease, whether you are pregnant and also whether the vaccine strain matches the circulating strains in any given year. In general, its going to risk your of influenza and complications by about 50 per cent.
  1. Why are some people against getting the seasonal flu shot?
There are some people who are against about getting immunizations in general. They have concerns about being exposed to pathogens that are present in the flu vaccine. They have beliefs about their risks of adverse outcome from the flu shot being relatively low. The data suggests that about a quarter of people in any given year will develop influenza during flu season.
  1. Should I get the seasonal flu shot?
Yes, the risks of complications to those who catch the flu can be severe illness and even death, according to the Government of Canada.
  1. Can you get the flu from the flu shot?
No, you cant get the flu from the flu shot. What you will be given is parts of the virus not live virus. What one gets is some antigen, it is injected into your muscles and your immune system responds to those antigens.
  1. Immunizations: Is the flu shot dangerous for children/elderly people?
The most common hazard is pain from the injection and allergies. There is not really a main hazard other than that. People talk about having fevers after the shot and that may occur, I think it is relatively minor. Most people can manage it with some Tylenol.
  1. Immunizations: Is it normal to get a fever after getting the influenza flu shot? Why?
Usually it is something else going on. I dont think there is good data on what the cause of fever are post-immunization. The theory is that you are responding to the antigen that has been injected into your muscles so that your immune system is activated.
  1. Should my child get the flu shot?
Yes. There are guidelines on the immunization. So there is the availability of the vaccine for individuals starting relatively young. There is flu vaccine that is approved for children. There is also a flu mist that has been used in children as well, which is a nasal injection. It is available for children because of the issues associated with muscular injections.
  1. How long does a flu shot typically provide immunity?
Generally we talk about the effectiveness being good for the season. Unfortunately the current vaccines we have available arent as strong as we would like. There are some new vaccines coming out actually this year there has been the double dose vaccine for older people and immunize compromised people to sort of increase the exposure to antigens and increase the immune response.
  1. Will my natural immunity develop if I do not take flu shot and get contracted with flu?
The virus replicates in your respiratory tract, your immune system responds to it and you clear it, for the most part. The complications are really associated with when the virus causes damage to the lungs.
This article, and the products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please see your health care provider before taking any supplements or starting a new program.

Chandra Lye is a writer/journalist based in Vancouver, B.C.

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